As a teacher, your time is valuable and, let’s face it, pinched. You might be surprised to learn Twitter can be a profound tool in helping you with your professional development.
Twitter can offset your professional development (as well as both classroom curriculum and engagement), by increasing the opportunity to engage with cutting edge information in every industry. As a classroom teacher, this is a powerful low-cost way to offer your students the best information on every subject.
Many people, not just teachers, may feel overwhelmed with how to best use the medium toward that end. Below, four easy but very effective ways to increase your professional development with Twitter.
#1 Use Hashtags To Search
For those not in the know, hashtags (#) placed in front of certain phrases help both Twitter and Google not only find information on-line with those words or phrases, but it helps users find all other tweets with the same, or similar hashtag. Think of hashtags as search queries where you find the most current information from those in the field- a nice tool for teachers to have. You’ll see a drop down list of suggestions when creating hashtags, and this list populates the most commonly used words or phrases as suggestions for a hashtag. This list is important as it gives an educator insight as to the kind of information that’s trending on any topic they’re searching.
For instance, a science teacher may want to find out more about global warming. Creating a tweet, and placing this term into a hashtag allows her to find the most valuable information first, that’s trending around this topic. Not only can the teacher query other followers about the keyword-global warming-but she can then click on the term to populate a list of all tweets with that tag.
Even better, this can be filtered to include only certain groups or people who have tweeted about it, narrowing the search toward academic or scholarly information.
#2 Get Familiar With Common Hashtags in Different Industries
Twitter is now ten years old. Through the years, a culture has developed that’s standardized the most common tweets, across different industries. Knowing these hashtags, and having a reference list handy, is a great way to narrow your search. Bookmarking sites that track these, per category, is a fast way for a busy teacher to find good information.
A business administration teacher may want to find out about trending job growth information for a discussion the next day. Tweeting or following #jobs, a currently trending and common hashtag, is a fast way for him to start a search and drill down to ‘job growth’.
There are great lists for different subject areas, like Social Sciences, or STEM, as good places to search, too.
#3 Engage With Experts
Major universities, university departments, experts and scholars now have twitter accounts, meaning the content they tweet is valuable, academic information and an excellent resource for teachers. If teachers want to increase their professional development, they no longer must sort through scholarly journals, or start with a broad Google search-simply following top scholars and researchers in their fields means they receive daily, expert information in their twitter feed.
Even more effective is reaching out to other teachers, as well as top academics, think tanks or organizations with specific questions. Never before has information been more accessible, from prestigious professors and cutting edge research groups. Simply asking a question can get you a response. Want to know about the latest genetic cloning research? Find out about the effects of colonization on modern-day Africa? Follow experts in these fields and tweet your question.
#4 Engage Your Students By Engaging Your Followers
Probably the best use of Twitter for professional development is using it as an engagement tool for your students.
In the Twitter-verse, you’re very likely to get a re-tweet request(or an RT request), if you post an image and ask for something for your class. People love to help, and your students will enjoy it. Have twitter pick the best art project, re-tweet a cause for your class, like a Read-a-thon. Do a geography lesson with the support of world travelers, posting pictures and information about the sites you’re focusing on.
Twitter is an ever evolving tool that has become even more valuable as a means of accessing information and communicating ideas for everyone, not just for the latest sports or celebrity buff. Using these steps will substantially increase your professional development.
Do you use Twitter to increase your professional development or to create new lesson plans?
Yes? Leave a comment and share your experiences!